Sliding OUT of the DM’s : 3 Signs Social Media & Hyper-Connectivity Are Bad For You
In our hyper-connected and ‘always on’ world, we are moving towards a point where we have more digital interactions via social media and various other applications, than we have IRL personal interactions. For an introvert, this is pretty awesome, especially when you’re not in the mood to ‘people’. But somewhere along the way, we are losing our humanity and our ability to act rationally, and interact in a meaningful and authentic way. Here are 3 signs that your social media habit might be damaging your health and wellbeing and it might be time to slide out of those DM’s, girl!
Don’t get me wrong – I freakin’ love social media and all things digital and tech. I love how technology has made the world smaller and how it has enabled us to learn new skills, access information, share our stories and connect with people on the other side of the world or speak to them as if they were sitting in the room across from us.
I may not be the poster child for habitual social media use, given the fact that I am a very proud Gen X suburban mother of 2, over the age of 40. But even nice suburban moms get caught up in the bright lights of the digital world and sometimes lose track of what is really important. But see, I use my smartphone for literally everything from banking to reading (thank you Kindle app!) to research to writing content just like this (yes, I am writing this on my phone). I stream everything, including music, television and movies and I can honestly say that I spend more time with my phone than I do with my children or anyone else in my life. Fortunately, I am hyper-aware of just how reliant I have become on social media and technology in general and I take steps to ensure that I don’t develop a full-blown digital addiction. Here are 3 warning signs that you should look out for and start curbing your social media and smart device usage if you see any of these starting to rear their ugly little heads.
Always Comparing: Bad For Your Self Esteem
When I was growing up in the 1980’s, we all wanted to be like the movie stars of the time or like the models in Cosmo. It took us a few years to learn about the art of ‘airbrushing’ in magazines and that most of those movie stars are actually really petite women and it would be a physical impossibility for most of us to ever look like those women, no matter how much we exercise or diet. We were comparing ourselves to an ideal that was on the other side of the world and it wasn’t in our face and on our personal newsfeed all day and every day. With the advent of social media, we are literally inundated by visual representations of ‘perfection’ on Pinterest and Instagram and we are constantly comparing ourselves and trying to live up to these standards of perfection. It’s really, really damaging to your self-esteem if you are constantly looking at images of the perfect hair and makeup or perfectly put together outfit or fabulous vacation or perfectly organised home. Generally, what most of us do, is compare our own appearances and our own spaces to these images that we see, and the negative self-talk starts.
We tell ourselves we aren’t pretty enough or thin enough or we don’t have big enough boobs or the best shaped ass or we have too many wrinkles or our space is a mess and we are a bad person for having a full-time job and not spending enough time organising our space or baking the perfect pastel coloured macarons. We live in a world of #NoFilter, but – let’s be honest here – that is total BS. We all have some filter app on our phone that digitally alters our ‘imperfections’ and our smartphones are now being manufactured with these filters built into the camera! So, what you are seeing is just as much not real as what I was seeing in Cosmo in 1992, girl ,and you need to let that stuff go! And if you are holding onto the perfection displayed on Pinterest, do yourself a favour and watch “Nailed It” on Netflix – that’s what it really looks like when ordinary people try and recreate the veritable artworks that were created by professional pastry chefs.
In all the time you are spending ‘liking’ the posts of others, don’t forget to like yourself!
Always Distracted: Bad For Your Relationships & Your Productivity Levels
When last did you go to a dinner party or any other social event and truly engage, one-on-one, with the people you were with? Everyone is so busy looking at their phones and busy with other conversations and scrolling through social media feeds, that they miss the opportunity for true human connection that is right in front of them. All you need to do to be happier and live a life less isolated, is actually look up from your smartphone or tablet every once in a while and have a real conversation and real laughs with the people you are with. If we are to form real, lasting, interpersonal relationships with friends, colleagues and significant others, we need to give them the courtesy of our undivided attention. Set a timer and agree to a ‘no phones’ rule and spend 20 minutes having coffee or a drink with someone. Start monitoring the time you spend on social media and set some ground rules around how often you check your phone and how long you spend scrolling through your feeds.
When you’re at work, set yourself similar limits on social media. Many people I have coached, have complained of being stressed and having too much work, but when we did a simple productivity exercise and started blocking social media during their most productive working hours, they noticed that their workload was suddenly a lot more manageable and their stress levels decreased. There are numerous apps available that will help you to ensure that you stay in your ‘flow’ and you’re productive by blocking notifications from social media or even from emails so that you can get some work done and free yourself from the time-suck that social media can be.
Always Sedentary: Bad For Your Health
Most of us work in offices where we are required to sit in front of a screen for long periods of time. When we are not staring at that screen, we are on our phones and we are not moving enough during the day. Sure, we try and make up for it by going for a run in the morning or hitting the gym after work, but it’s still really bad for us to be spending our days just sitting and not moving. And don’t even get me started on the dangers of walking whilst looking at your smartphone screen. Be mindful of your own safety and the safety of others. I’m not going to lie to you – this is my personal worst and I really need to do more to get up and move more during the day. I’ve invested in an inexpensive little device that vibrates and reminds me to get up and get moving and I hope you will join me in practicing more mindfulness around how much time we spend, simply sitting.
The bottom line is that social media and digital technology as a whole, is nothing short of miraculous and it has enabled us to bring the world closer. It is up to each of us to use these tools responsibly and ensure that we don’t negatively impact our physical and emotional wellbeing . Look up every once in a while and embrace all the wonders and the beauty of the world and the people around you!
Deborah Hartung is a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker. She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking.